Updated: Apr 3
Warning: strong feelings ahead.
I attended a birth several months ago where a nurse made an offhanded remark that still gets me all fired up (it's not the first and it won't be the last).
During a particularly difficult moment in the process the nurse walks in, clomps around the room and huffs at the monitors. Upon noticing the events unfolding instead of a kind word or assurance she said "I don't know why we romanticize birth, this. is. not. romantic".
I could spend hours talking about why I disagree with this statement and why that comment upset me so much. In the moment, I couldn't get carried away, I had to stay present and focused on my client. I reminded her she was doing great and this is normal.
I came home and gave it some serious thought and that memory hasn't left me. First of all, this comment was UNHELPFUL, UNSUPPORTIVE AND UNNECESSARY. The last thing someone needs when they are having a hard time is someone invalidating and gaslighting them. She may as well have said "shut up, you are making a fuss"
The second reason this bothered me is that it was just a very untrue statement.
Birthing days are some of the most romantic things I have seen
Maybe not in the traditional sense, but it has all the elements of those the love stories that stand the test of time. Think about it. What are the stories that move us, that we root for, the stories that sweep us off our feet? Is it the stories that are predictable, effortless, neat and follow a very prescribed timeline? No. These are not the stories that get told over and over again. Real, lasting love takes some time and effort. There's often some frustrations and heartache involved. But we do it because the rewards are great.
Birth is romantic because it is something we work for. It is something we do out of love for another person.
It requires patience. Sometimes it's unpredictable there's things that are out of our control. Sometimes we face a lot of obstacles. It's messy. Maybe the pregnancy was very challenging, maybe becoming pregnant was very challenging, maybe the birth was more work than we anticipated. Maybe we had to make hard choices, maybe there were moments we doubted ourselves and wanted out. Maybe this is a story of adoption or surrogacy where hard choices are made from a position of love.
First of all, let me say I respect and I am grateful for nurses. They have a very difficult and technical job. They are in charge of monitoring, charting and medications. They have multiple patients to care for at once. The hours are long and challenging.
Many of them are perfectly kind and sensitive. Some are not, and those exchanges leave a lasting impression.
Maybe what that nurse meant to say is "this is not romantic for me." Sure, from her point of view, it's not a romantic event. It's not her baby being born. She won't have a lifelong relationship with this child. She doesn't have an attachment to the support person.
If you haven't heard it before, I'm here to give you permission to believe that your birthing day is worthy of all of the same attention and care that we give to other meaningful days and celebrations. Your day may have some twists and turns but in the end, it is story of love.
Two people supporting each other and going through big, hard feelings together
Facing difficult moments but not giving up because it's worth it.
A partner tenderly observing and encouraging
A birthing person loving and trusting their body
Watching two people become parents
Marveling with wonder and awe at the power of bringing life into the world
Falling in love with your baby
Falling more in love with each other seeing your family grow
Conclusion: Birth is Romantic. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Are you ready to celebrate and remember this love-filled experience?